Twitter trialling 280 character limit

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Twitter’s recent announcement that it was trialling an increase of its 140-character limit to 280 has been the subject of much scorn but should marketers be enthusiastic or troubled about this change?

Twitter’s own blogpost stated “We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming”. Founder Jack Dorsey defended the change, describing how 140 was a result of prehistoric SMS message restrictions whilst praising his developers’ commitment to problem solving. But there were many criticising the move as an unnecessary, unwanted change when Twitter should be tackling its enormous harassment problem first.

Twitter has made several murmurs about increasing the limit in recent years, instead opting for tweaks such as images and usernames not being counted in the 140-character limit. But this move is a response to their data which claims that only 0.4% of tweets sent in Japanese reach the full 140-character limit compared to 9 percent of English ones – Twitter believes this is causing frustration and are therefore testing the 280 limit on a small group of users first.

The change could simply be Twitter’s attempt to attract new users and improve its position in the world of social media platforms – it ranks behind Facebook, Instagram and YouTube with Snapchat not far behind. As they say in the blogpost; “When people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting,” – meaning they hope for more space equals more Twitter users which translates as good news for promotions.

The upside of the character increase will be that promotions run via Twitter will have more space to be inventive and creative. Promoters will also have the space to describe their promotion clearly and to include summary terms and conditions, or links to terms and other websites. But as many have commented, if you need the space “get a blog” – short, smart posts are what makes Twitter distinctive. Increasing the limit will make it indistinguishable from its rivals.

Whilst we think that it is great to have more space in promotional posts when used wisely it could make for boring entries that require extra time and attention when moderating and judging. So, when the change does come to all, make sure the T&Cs specify the number of characters required for an entry. For help and advice running successful promotions on Twitter contact PromoVeritas at or call +44 203 325 6000.

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